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Top trends: Designer reveals what’s hot in kitchen renovations

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Courtesy of Viscusi Elson Interior Design & Rutt Kitchens
A white kitchen provides a neutral backdrop for both bright and subtle colors and earth tones, said Gina Viscusi Elson, owner of Viscusi Elson Interior Design & Rutt Kitchens of Los Altos.

Kitchens have been on overdrive since Thanksgiving, with Christmas Day, perhaps, being the swan song for an outdated or dysfunctional one – that is, if Santa got the message.

So what’s in store for 2020 if a kitchen remodel is in your future?

A quick search of websites such as Better Homes & Gardens, Elle Decor and Country Living forecast these trends: the return of marble, the demise of the white kitchen, unexpected color pops, black walls and cabinetry, slab backsplashes, bright-colored stoves, warm finishes and open shelving for decor.

Elena Kotelenets and Julie Park, senior designers at IKB Design & Construction in Los Altos, added these “trending” items: light-colored painted cabinets, large single-bowl sinks, under-counter LED strip lighting, designated coffee stations, hidden cooktop hoods and quartz and quartzite countertops.

What would an interior designer include in a personal kitchen remodel?

Just ask Gina Viscusi Elson, principal designer and owner of Viscusi Elson Interior Design & Rutt Kitchens of Los Altos, who is in the midst of rebuilding her home. She answered this question and offered her views on what’s trending.

The following interview was conducted via email and then edited for clarity and concision.

Q: Is the classic white kitchen passé?

A: No. A white kitchen is the little black dress in every woman’s closet. It will not go out of style because it provides a neutral backdrop for both bright and subtle colors and earth tones. The popular shades of white change over time. Right now they are a bright pure white instead of having a warm or cool hue. A touch of gray or greige has been trending. In my own kitchen, I am doing a bright white perimeter with a black island – two neutral colors with forever longevity.

Q: Are upper cabinets being nixed as some prognosticators claim?

A: We’re creating more kitchens with fewer upper cabinets for an open, clean look. We are storing more goods in eye-level and lower cabinetry for better ergonomics. In my own kitchen, there are no upper cabinets, but I do have dimensional shelves. Open shelves create a feeling of visual lightness.

Q: What are popular materials and colors for cabinets?

A: Paint-grade wood cabinets continue to be the most popular, followed by walnut, rift-cut white oak and Eastern hard rock maple. Warm tones are trending in both wood and painted finishes. Navy millwork is in favor along with the aforementioned black.

We tell our clients that cabinetry hardware is the jewelry in the kitchen. It’s the finishing touch that pulls the entire look together.

Q: Strongly veined marble seems to be big, especially on “waterfall” islands. What is your take on countertops and backsplashes?

A: Marble is being welcomed back into kitchens with the development of protective treatments, allowing people to live freely. Porcelain counters continue to improve with some stone “copies” being extremely impressive. Graphic patterns for backsplashes are making big waves. We, as designers, are thrilled because they are more readily available and affordable for our clients.

Waterfall islands are not a huge trend anymore, but for the right job they are perfect and add a nice design element to the kitchen. Though they are most common in modern homes, they can be beautiful in a clean, traditional home.

Q: What about sinks and faucets? What’s new?

A: The most exciting sink trend is the single-bowl Galley Workstation – 4 feet or longer. It is designed with a true home chef in mind. It has multiple layers, so cutting boards, trays, bowls and colanders can be passed between multiple users. The entire opening can be converted to a serving area for celebrations. The majority of the space below is usable.

Touch faucets are popular, with kinks still being worked out by manufacturers. Once they are, the faucets will be in everyone’s kitchen.

Sinks in bright metallics, hammered finishes, intricate details and gold are among new options.

Q: Are stainless-steel appliances succumbing to colorful appliances?

A: Stainless-steel appliances are not out of fashion. Bright colors are in and clients are excited to have splashes of color in the ranges and hoods. It’s OK to take risks and have fun in the kitchen. Personally, I like to cover appliances with custom panels and use gorgeous hardware.

Q: Any other trends?

A: High-quality American-made goods.

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